Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Overview From Italy Of The Galati-Costagliola Appeal To The Supreme Court Of Cassation

Posted by Machiavelli

1. About Dr Galati

Dr Giovanni Galati is the Procurator General of Perugia, and one of the two magistrates at the highest function currently working in the Region of Umbria.

Until early 2011 he worked in Rome as a Procurator General at the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. His life and career had nothing to do with Perugia. A native of Calabria, he spent the last and most important part of his career in Rome, and moved to Perugia only quite recently.

Working as a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Cassation, he developed an expertise as a “cassationist” magistrate. That means specialized in legitimacy issues, and in this role he handled several high profile cases. Among them was the recent one of Salvatore Cuffaro, the former governor of Sicily, now in jail.

Cuffaro was convicted for having favored the mafia and was sentenced to seven years. The governor was found guilty by the appeal court, but Galati impugned the sentencing by the Supreme Court on one specific aspect: while he agreed Cuffaro was guilty, he considered there was only evidence of common crime, while the lower courts failed to provide the legal requirements for proof of the aggravating circumstance of the mafia-related kind of crime.

In Galati’s opinion, Cuffaro was still corrupt and a criminal, and the difference may seem like a minor detail. His conclusion was not to overturn the verdict, but only to reduce the aggravating circumstance and shorten the prison term. Galati made the point and won, the Supreme Court cut one and a half year off Cuffaro’s prison term.

One thing to note is that the majority of Galati’s recourses are appeals in favor of the defendant. The Prosecution General, the office that brings cases to the Supreme Court, deals with procedure and legitimacy issues. Its aim is to ensure consistency and quality of work of the criminal courts.

It does not deal directly with the merit of evidence, but in fact, since the assessment of the evidence is a matter of internal logical consistency and consistency with trial actions, as well as respecting of procedure and of Supreme Court jurisprudence, the scrutiny of the lower court’s process obviously indirectly involves an assessment of the quality of evidence, and on the quality of the lower court’s reasoning on all factual points.

Giancarlo Costagliola was of course the lead prosecutor for the Hellmann-Zanetti appeal.

2. About the appeal

The Galati-Costigliola appeal is a 112-page document, with citations in an appendix to each chapter remanding to trial documents (technically the cited documents have to be considered included in the submission). The Supreme Court of Cassation however will have the entitlement of going through the whole trial documentation.

The Galati-Costagliola Appeal to the Supreme Court immediately looks different in quality and content from the previous court documents that we have seen up to now on the case. As we read it in Italian, it looks well written (except for a few grammar mistakes in the Latin parts) and stylistically homogeneous.

It dedicates extensive parts to the philosophy of law, and it includes several quotes of Supreme Court jurisprudence in the introductory and conclusive chapters.

It is an unusual appeal. Contrary to most appeals submitted by Galati as Procurator General, this one does not raise objections simply on parts of the sentencing, conclusions, or points of reasoning. Instead it attacks the verdict in its entirety. It attacks indeed all logical points and conclusions, including the part about calunnia, for which Knox was found guilty. And it goes even beyond.

Besides disputing the single points on the merit, it contains an explicit and more general attack on the whole appeal court’s approach to the case, against the general quality of their reasoning and their handling of trial and procedure, as well as against even their behavior even before the beginning of the trial discussion. There is an introductory part, and one conclusion part, which are dedicated to this kind of general criticism toward the entirety of the judges’ work.

At the beginning the document presents the summary of the ten reasons for appeal which, in Galati-Costagliola’s opinion, fatally affect the legitimacy of the judgment.

The ten questions of merit are the following:

1.  The illegitimacy of Hellmann’s admission of new expert witnesses (Vecchiotti and Conti). The appointing of new experts violates the code. Galati-Costagliola clearly explains why, using both Supreme Court jurisprudence and Criminal Procedure Code. It addresses and shows the multiple instances of lack of reasoning in Hellmann’s explanations on the point, the “contradictory nature of reasoning” and its “manifest illogicality” in light of the law.

2.  The failure to acquire elements of evidence. Galati-Costagliola focuses specifically on the rejection of witness testimonies, above all 1) the refusal to again hear the witness Aviello, and 2) the refusal of new tests on the knife. These decisions were taken in violation of Articles 190, 238 paragraph 5 and 495 paragraph 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and in violation of Article 606 (c) and (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code. There is manifest illogicality of the judgment on the point.

3.  The establishing of the unreliability of the witness Quintavalle. The method declared to assess reliability of the witness violates the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court on the topic, and the insufficient reasoning violates Article 606(b) and (e) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

4.  The establishing of the unreliability of the witness Curatolo. The reasons expressed are illogical, prejudicial, and violate the Criminal Procedure Code.

5.  The claimed timing of the death of Meredith Kercher demonstrates a manifest illogicality in the reasoning, contains an unfounded assessment, and is manifestly in contrast with other court documentation of the case. The internal and external inconsistencies of Hellmann’s statements on the topic constitute a violation of the Criminal Procedure Code.

6.  The genetic investigations: coverage of this topic in Hellmann’s sentencing report demonstrates deficiency in the reasoning, and inconsistency and illogicality [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]

7.  The analysis of the prints and traces (stains) demonstrates deficiency in the reasoning, and a contradictory nature and illogicality in the reasoning [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]

8.  The presence of Knox and Sollecito at Via della Pergola on the night of the murder: misrepresentation of the evidence presented is demonstrated and illogicality of the reasoning [Article 606 paragraph 1(e) Criminal Procedure Code]. Violation of procedural rules and illogicality of the reasoning [Article 606 paragraph 1(b) and (e) Criminal Procedure Code] are demonstrated.

9.  The staging of the break-in (simulation of a crime): demonstration of deficiency in the reasoning and manifest illogicality of the same [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]

10. The exclusion of aggravation in the calunnia offence: the contradictory nature or manifest illogicality of the reasoning is demonstrated, also defects resulting from internal and external inconsistence with the court documents of the case: starting with the declarations by Patrick Diya Lumumba, and those by the accused, Amanda Knox, and the contents of the conversation between the latter and her mother on 10 November 2007 [Article 606(e) last part, Criminal Procedure Code].

However, the ten reasons listed above are not all of Galati-Costagliola’s arguments. Their explanations cover the core (80%) of the Hellmann-Zanetti sentencing document. But even before entering into these reasons on the merit, Galati-Costagliola make a preliminary point, a “premise” to the whole document.

The “premise” takes twenty pages and this alone is telling about the gravity of the criticism Dr Galati is going to make throughout the whole appeal document.  The premise warns the readers (the judges of the Supreme Court) that in fact there is a problem of quality pervading the whole of Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s work which affects deeply their reasoning and conclusions on multiple occasion and in multiple concurring ways.

He makes clear that his criticism of Hellmann is methodological, and he points to the trial as a whole from the roots, far beyond the single topic of errors exposed in the appeal.

The “premise” of preliminary points, a short essay in itself, has its own summary of six points, each one to explain a typology of recurrent error committed by Hellmann and Zanetti. In the premise Galati explains four of the types of error, while the last two are discussed in the further chapters together with some of the points on the merit.

These are the six types of error:

1.  One error “of method” affecting the logical process is the “petitio principii”, which Galati-Costagliola addresses as a recurrent, structural and pervasive method of reasoning used by Hellmann-Zanetti.

It is “begging the question”, a kind of empty circular reasoning. This is demonstrated in several chapters and points. For Hellmann-Zanetti’s reasoning, Galati-Costagliola reserve the names “paradoxical”, “disconcerting”, “useless”, “circular”, and worse in this same tone.

2.  The failure to apply the inferential-inductive method to assess circumstantial evidence. This is a key point based on jurisprudence and is in fact a devastating general argument against Hellmann-Zanetti:

The appeal to Cassation’s jurisprudence on the circumstantial case originates from the fact that the Assize Appeal Court did not deploy a unified appreciation of the circumstantial evidence and did not examine the various circumstantial items in a global and unified way.

With its judgment it has, instead, fragmented the circumstantial evidence; it has weighed each item in isolation with an erroneous logico-judicial method of proceeding, with the aim of criticizing the individual qualitative status of each of them ..

Dr Galati accuses the appeal court of focusing on the quality of some pieces of circumstantial evidence, instead of their correlation to each other as the Supreme Court always requires. .

The appeal judges, in actual fact, deny that the probative reasoning and the decisive and cognitive proceeding of the court is to be found in the circumstantial evidence paradigm of the hypothetico-probabilistic kind, in which the maxims of experience, statistical probability and logical probability have a significant weight.

The court must reach a decision by means of the “inductive-inferential” method: it proceeds, by inference, from individual and certain items of data, through a series of progressive causalities, to further and fuller information, so arriving at a unification of them in the context of [13] the reconstructed hypothesis of the fact.

This means that the data, informed and justified by the conclusions, are not contained in their entirety in the premises of the reasoning, as would have happened if the reasoning were of the deductive type “¦ (..) A single element, therefore, concerning a segment of the facts, has a meaning that is not necessarily unambiguous.

Dr Galati cites and explains further:

The Perugia Court of Appeal has opted, instead, precisely for the parceled-out evaluation of individual probative elements, as if each [14] one of them must have an absolutely unambiguous meaning, and as if the reasoning to be followed were of the deductive type.

This error emerges from the text of the judgment itself, but the gravity of the error committed by the Court in its decision derives from the fact that even the individual elements had been acquired by the cognitive-decisioning process in a totally partial manner, isolating the sole aspect that allowed the recognizing of doubts and uncertainties in the element itself..

So Galati-Costagliola concludes ““ and this by now is obvious ““ that the Hellmann-Zanetti court followed a “deductive only” paradigm on pieces in isolation, instead of the “inferential-inductive” paradigm prescribed by Supreme Court requirements (1995).

Moreover, Hellmann-Zanetti applied a deductive paradigm of assessment only to some cherry picked aspects of the single isolated pieces of evidence, overlooking other qualities of the single piece (an example ““ my own ““ is the possible “contamination” of the bra clasp found on the floor in the murder room.) Ordering an assessment of the quality of any element as if it was a proof in isolation from the rest of the evidence is itself unlawful.

But Hellmann”“Zanetti also picked out of the evidence one aspect alone, for example it points to the theoretical possibility of contamination by touching from gloves, but does not consider the negative check results from the possible contamination sources. The interpretation of X-DNA from the bra-clasp by Vecchiotti in the conclusion is worded as if to ignore the results on the Y-haplotype, and so on.

So even single aspects/qualities of isolated items are further isolated from other aspects by Hellmann-Zanetti, and are assessed without looking for a relationship to the context. This is a core violation of the basics of jurisprudence in cases based on circumstantial evidence.

3.  Refusal to acquire documentation as evidence: the definitive Guede verdict. Hellmann-Zanetti refused to acquire the documentation and to consider it a piece of evidence, without any backing from procedure jurisprudence and without providing any justification.

By doing this the Hellmann court was again violating the legal boundaries. The Galati-Costagliola appeal considers this as one more type of violation, the refusal to attribute any kind of probative value to the definitive verdict on Guede, thus violating Article 238 of the Criminal Procedure Core, and bringing up a manifestly illegitimate justification. The violation is quite egregious under the code.

4.  Failure to assess and to weight key elements, among which is Knox’s written “memoir”. This is a severe violation of article 237 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The usability of Knox’s “memoir” as well as its probative value were already established by the Supreme Court itself, and it was admitted into the process. Hellmann-Zanetti fail to provide the slightest logical explanation for changing the established assessment and disregarding that evidence.

5.  The failure to acquire possibly important pieces of evidence. Galati-Costagliola are focused mainly on two points: 1) the knife, and the refusal of having it further tested for DNA; 2) the refusal to hear Aviello after his retraction of his claims.

We know that, while the testimony of Aviello might be just not credible because of his proven unreliability, and while some may argue that thus his testimony was not “decisive”, the testing of DNA found on the knife would be a piece of evidence for sure.

But the Procurator General points out that the refusal to hear Aviello is part of a severe violation, because the Hellmann motivazioni accepts his retraction statement, considering it thus reliable, but throws out some parts of it and refuses to hear him as a witness.

So the Galati-Costagliola appeal statement includes quotes of some shocking lines from Aviello’s interrogation, to show the heavy nature of it that cannot be thrown out without assessment

A twisting of words - like “cutting-edge” which becomes “experimental” in Hellmann’s reasoning - is the illogical justification for Hellmann-Zanetti forbidding a further DNA test. The motivation is obviously bogus, and Galati backs the point with quotes from Novelli’s tehnical explanation.

6.  Galati-Costagliola address a pervasive violation, claiming it recurs multiple times in the document: a violation of a kind called “misrepresentation of the evidence”.

This is when the judge omits aspects of the pieces of evidence that would contradict their conclusion, expressing an obvious cognitive bias. The appeal describes this violation in different chapters (5,6,8) as occurring in the process of assessing different pieces of evidence, including witness reports, wiretappings, and other items.

3. My own assessment of the Galati appeal

As you can guess from the summary above, the appeal is rather strong, and explains many heavy implications in Italian jurisprudence so that it would be difficult for the Supreme Court to reject it. 

Difficult not only because the kind of objections raised by Galati-Costagliola are devastating to Hellmann’s legitimacy (in fact it’s even more, they tend to form a picture of manipulation of the trial); and not only because Hellmann’s verdict appears to be devastating to jurisprudence generally, so much so that it would become impossible to rule on guilt in many other cases; and not only because a verdict that puts together the conviction for calunnia (a felony crime with malice) and the acquittal for murder, has a contradiction on a macro-level.

But also diificult because the same office of Cassation has already issued another definitive verdict, on the Rudy Guede case. They acknowledged that Guede did not act alone, and the Supreme Court themselves even obtained independently some elements of evidence of this, which had not been considered by the previous judges.

Accepting Hellmann-Zanetti and rejecting Galati would equate to cancel Guede’s verdict. It would require a re-write of the entire process from scratch.

Galati-Costagliola shed light on many points in good order, so I tend to be optimistic and confident in the strength of the appeal.

However I also believe there could have been something more, to make it even more strong. There are a few points ““ in my opinion - still missing, which I would have added. Four points that I miss are the following:

1.  There is no mention about the analysis ““ or the lack thereof - of Knox’s lies, aka the inconsistencies in her story, her “mop-shower” alibi version, what she told prior to her false accusation. There was a partial analysis of this area of evidence in Massei, who only mentioned her lying about her behavior before Meredith’s closed door.

But a lot more could have been brought out, so many contradictions and so sharp, to demonstrate that her recollection was entirely fictional. The entire topic disappeared in Hellmann’s logic and Galati-Costagliola does not hit on the point. I think this obliteration of key evidence should have been a battlefield for the appeal, I think it could have been linked to the error of misrepresentation of the evidence.

2.  Galati-Costagliola misses one point of criticism on the bathmat footprint assessment. It does make a point objecting to the manifest illogicality of Hellmann’s reasoning on the footprint analysis. But there is one point more where it could hit, one external inconsistency that could have been highlighted:

Hellmann-Zanetti’s illogical reasoning on the footprint is based on a false assumption. Not only it has no basis in the acts of evidence but it is proven false. It is that Hellmann excludes Sollecito on the basis that the print was “inked” by stepping on a flat surface (proven false), and attributes it to Guede, on the opposite assumption that it was produced by immersion. I note that Galati does not address directly this introduction of false premises.

3.  The appeal deals only partly with the Vecchiotti-Conti report controversy. It points to Hellmann’s contradiction on “contamination” of the knife and their failure to indicate any path for any contamination in general. But it does not say much about the bra clasp (it implies however that Sollecito’s DNA was found).

Vecchiotti’s report is unacceptable when it comes to the DNA chart: it acknowledges that Sollecito’s DNA was on the clasp after all when it comes to the Y-haplotype, but in the autosome-chromosome analysis attempts to create confusion by applying principles that are incompatible with Supreme Court guidelines on evidence analysis. Also Vecchiotti desecends into inconsistency and shows her real cards when she attempts to figure out contamination paths for how Sollecito’s DNA had arrived on the clasp.

However, I think the SCC might have all the material on this point in the attachment documents from Galati.

4.  One missing point important to me is that Galati-Costagliola does not point out the prejudicial and racist stance declared at the beginning and at the core of Hellmann’s reasoning.

Other parts are maybe more outrageous and more directly offensive to other people and other intelligences, but the racist Hellmann’s reason to me is the most disgusting.

It is a shame that a judge of the Republic is allowed to write things like this. Hellmann-Zanetti write that it is itself “unlikely” ““ it would require a very special proof ““ that Guede and Knox/Sollecito could have just met and done something together because they are “different”, while Sollecito and Knox are “good fellows”

Hellmann-Zanetti could have legitimately used the argument that it was likely for Guede to have committed a crime alone because he had a police record. They could have used this argument, but they did not use it. Their wording was totally different. I think we can guess what the reason is why they didn’t use this argument. It would have been extremely weak.

There is a logical connection between a theoretical break in and the theft in the law firm; this logical connection is equal to (in fact much weaker than) the logical connection between a staged break in and a roommate. But there is no logical connection between crimes like a theft of a laptop in an apartment and assaulting, torturing and killing a woman: thousands, in fact hundreds of thousands, of common thieves, in Italy, do not rape and do not kill anyone.

You cannot use the criminal record of Rudy Guede as a basis for claiming it is “likely” that he could commit a crime of this kind alone. That’s why Hellmann-Zanetti didn’t use it.

Instead, they used prejudice, the racist card: instead of trying to explain why it was likely that Rudy could have done it alone, they decided to claim that it was unlikely that they would find themselves together, because they are “good fellows” (and “different”).

As you can understand, this has nothing to do with Rudy’s criminal record.

By the way, Hellmann-Zanetti know that Knox had been knowing Guede long before she became friends with Sollecito, they already knew that Knox and Guede have been seen together on more than one occasion in more than one place, and even that Guede in fact attended the cottage and was friends with other people in the cottage. In fact they knew Guede and Knox used to attend the same places, house, roads and pubs.

They also knew that both Sollecito and Guede attended Piazza Grimana and the drug circle (which is the square in front of the school where Amanda had her language classes), that they lived 150 meters from each other, walked every day the same road; and ate at the same bars.

It was also known that not only Guede alone, but both Knox and Sollecito had questionable aspects in their personalities, so that these 20-years olds were not exactly expressing a profound stability in their lives.

They knew details like: leaving university, abandoning a job after one day, public disturbance fines, drunk parties, pouring beer glasses on the heads of unknowns, flirting with clients, relational problems with roommates and other girls, bringing several men at home causing arguments with roommates, collecting violent porn, heavy drug abuse over the years, knife collecting, a possible suicide mother, a lonely childhood and introverted character under the attention of a college director, memory voids.

Nobody is perfect. These details do not mean someone is guilty of anything. But what exactly is, in Hellmann-Zanetti’s mind, the “difference” of these personalities that makes these two be so obviously “good fellows”, as opposed to Guede, to the point that it is “extremely unlikely” that they can be found together, despite the fact that they attend the same places every day?

Who can tell me what is the possible reason of this difference?

Maybe there could be a relation with the fact that in Italian “good fellows” ““ “bravi ragazzi” means, in the subtext ” my family” as opposed to the other who is an outsider.

To my eyes this reasoning of Hellmann-Zanetti turns them into individuals who deserves no respect, they gain with this the most justified contempt, they should be treated like pigs: they practically wrote “they can’t be around together with Guede because they are our friends” while “he is out”.

Two bastards dirtying my country by wearing the robes of judges. I find this disgusting. It is unfortunate that Galati-Costagliola overlook this point.

4. The Galati appeal: my final thoughts

It is not possible to understand in depth the 10 points of merit from my short summary, which in fact is just a list. By reading them, I think they show their inner logical strength. I found only one weakness, that is in one of the sub-sections of point 5, where Galati-Costagliola discuss about Guede’s skype call.

I feel it’s remarkable that I couldn’t find any other questionable point (I am rather severe).

Reason 8 appears made of several points each with a different topic. They didn’t seem especially important to me as pieces of evidence, however they exist and are part of Galati-Costagliola criticism of Hellmann’s reasoning.

Reason 9 is effective but I would have used much more extensively the elements of evidence available and place them in line before the judge’s faces. Galati-Costagliola prefer to direct their objection to the inconsistence of Hellmann-Zanetti.

The part where Galati sounds more outraged is Reason 10, about the Calunnia. In this part in fact Hellmann sounds most “FoA” and offensive. In fact I think I have never read before a Cassation recourse so scathing as the Galati-Costagliola document seems to be on the Hellmann’s report.

Reading through the whole Galati document in Italian, you come upon expressions addressing the lower court’s work (repeatedly) with terms like “grave error” and “grave behavior”, you find also “disconcerting shallowness”, or the accusation of “ignoring the law”.

In the C&V report section Galati-Costagliola have some sarcastic lines such as: “how is it now they suddenly have become experts?”. In other parts you read the word “prejudice” or “obvious bias”, some of the parts of the Hellmann-Zanetti report are called “offensive” and “gratuitous”, and you also encounter the term “insinuation”.

Galati-Costagliola devolve significant attention to their method error in logic called “petitio principii”.  Now, in the traditional scholarly logic, there is a list of thirteen kind of typical “logical errors” divided in three groups: the errors of the kind “fallacia in voce” (due to misusing words in their meaning concepts) , “fallacia in re” (about getting facts wrong in the direct logical use of them) and “fallacia in deductione” (error in inference process): there are four types of “fallacia in re” and five types of “fallacia in deductione”.

The “petitio principii” (implicit circular reasoning) is one of the five types of “fallacia in deductione”.  Galati-Costagliola focus on this and on another case of “fallacia in re” called “corax”, but in fact in Hellmann-Zanetti there are also severe cases of logical errors of other kinds of “fallacia in deductione” and of the kinds of “fallacia in re”. Which may not matter too much.

This was my final thought.  I hope this can help readers to gain a rough idea of what the Galati-Costagliola Appeal to the Supreme Court looks like, its structure, its kind of arguments, and assess its qualities.

If the Supreme Court of Cassation accepts the appeal, I would consider the battle for justice in this case as won. I know that the Kerchers may need to see the end of the whole process. But to me, the fact of having the Galati-Costagliola appeal means itself half victory achieved.

This document, as you know, was issued by the highest magistrate in Umbria and what will remain in history is the forcible assertion that Knox and Sollecito are murderers beyond any doubt as expressed by Dr Galati in this document and elsewhere, as well as his outrage for the disgusting Hellmann-Zanetti trash-verdict.

This stance will never go away.


This is a powerful prelude to a reading of the Gilati appeal itself. It’s excellent. Thanks Yummi.

You mention things that Gilati could have added but did not. However I am sure that Galati will have done enough to direct the minds of the Cassation judges and can rely on their methodology and intelligence without having to spell absolutely everything out for them.

This appeal is simply not intended for the superficially minded, the inane and the gullible in stark contrast to the Hellmann and Zanetti Motivations report.

Posted by James Raper on 08/16/12 at 10:25 PM | #

A particularly offensive passage in Hellmann says this:

[A choice that is] all the more incomprehensible because it was aimed at supporting the criminal actions of a young man, Rudy Guede, with whom they had no relationship (there is, for example, no evidence of phone calls or text messages between the three young people) and who is different from them in personal history, character and human condition.]

Your analysis touches on this passage, which cannot be interpreted as anything but prejudicial and even includes the sources of that prejudice—personal history, character, and human condition.  Forget that Guede walked past Sollecito’s home every day on his way to the square or that he went to the same clubs and attended the same house parties as Knox did.  For Hellmann, none of this factual evidence matters as long as there is a human condition upon which to rely.

It’s noteworthy that he treats the witnesses with the same disregard.

There’s likely a plausible reason for Galati-Costagliola to omit this point in spite of its relevance to us.  I don’t know what it would be but the organisation and precision of the other main points, along with the preamble discussing forms of logic, ought to be sufficient to lead to a re-examination at the appeal level.

Posted by Stilicho on 08/16/12 at 10:26 PM | #

It is enough for Galati to point out that H-Z’s reasoning repeatedly begs the question (or, as Edda says, “beggars” the question 😊. The premise is that Knox and Sollecito are innocent, and each piece of evidence is explained away to maintain that premise. Evidence that cannot be explained away is simply ignored. The inferential-inductive approach should have been used instead to pull threads together.

I’ve been struggling to concisely explain the problems with C-V, so hopefully Galati goes into that. I would like to know how often court-appointed experts are used in criminal cases, because in the U.S. it is very rare. Hellmann did not instruct C-V to consider the plausibility of contamination, aside from the reviewing the collection and laboratory methods used, yet Vecchiotti exceeded her expertise by saying that the bra clasp was “probably” contaminated. Regarding the knife, the assertion that “we don’t accept the certain attribution of the profile ... to the victim” is unaccompanied by any evidence whatsoever that this DNA profile does not match the victim. It is just grandstanding to impress upon the court that THIS EVIDENCE MUST BE THROWN OUT!

Excellent review Yummi. I’ll have much more to say later.

Posted by brmull on 08/17/12 at 12:08 AM | #

If I might add, H-Z’s decision to throw out the whole 6-NOV handwritten statement is a “baby with the bath-water” problem because there is other information in the handwritten statement that doesn’t related to Knox’s accusation of Lumumba. For example,

NOV-4 email home:
“i also needed to grab a mop because after dinner raffael had spilled a lot of water on the floor of his kitchen by accident and didnt have a mop to clean it up.”

NOV-6 handwritten statement:
“After we ate Raffaele washed the dishes but the pipes under his sink broke and water flooded the floor. But because he didn’t have a mop I said we could clean it up tomorrow because we (Meredith, Laura, Filomena and I) have a mop at home.”

So, did “raffael” accidentally spill the water, or did the pipes break? When the police entered the apartment it looked like the trap had been taken off intentionally, not broken, and there was no visible water damage.

H-Z should have been asking questions like these, not finding excuses to ignore important evidence.

Posted by brmull on 08/17/12 at 12:32 AM | #

Yummi quoting Dr Galati:

” even the individual elements had been acquired by the cognitive-decisioning process in a totally partial manner, isolating the sole aspect that allowed the recognizing of doubts and uncertainties in the element itself..”

Totally partial manner?! Wow. He blew their cover. Toast to two meteoric careers. (Actually Hellman is back to labor law and Zanetti now in Terni is handling appeals such as the terms of divorces. Maybe less than meteoric.) 

Hellmann and Zanetti followed the whole of the FAO down the rathole described by Ted Simon on NBC in 2008, when he was convinced AK was guilty (before he was paid to say she was not).

All that FOA cherrypicking and whack-a-moling polluting half the world’s websites? It’s also toast. They need a new team and actual expertise to salvage anything at all. Even Bongiorno is out of her depth on this one.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/17/12 at 01:21 AM | #


The terms of reference for the Independent Experts were - should a re-testing of the genetic results not be possible (and C&V fell into into a big black hole on that one) - to evaluate from the records the reliability of the results, to include contamination.

I appreciate that you used the word “plausibility” when saying that C&V were not instructed to consider contamination, but clearly their remit was contamination and I fail to see how plausibility would not be a part of that remit though I think a part of the problem may stem from what is meant by “the records” and the fact that H&Z really just delegated the issue to C&V, without thinking it all through and without defining the parameters, in a complete abrogation of their responsibility to manage the proceedings properly and of their function as decision makers.

In other words I think that there was a failure by H&Z, quite apart from whether an independent review was necessary, or legitimate, to adequately define the terms of reference specifically on the point of what “the records” actually meant.

“to include contamination” is really pretty vague.

C&V narrowly defined this to mean documents (to include, for instance the crime scene video) relating to the collection and analysis of the specific exhibits per se rather than those, including testimony, relating to an overall consideration of the genetic results, and the collection and analysis of that from the crime scene, which, had they done so, would have enabled them to consider what correlation that information may have had with the issue of contamination to the specific exhibits.

Perhaps that was not entirely unreasonable particularly as they were left to decide their remit, and given the confines of their expertise they may not have felt that they were competent enough and/or it was not their function to expand their self perceived remit, but in this case their conclusions should have come with this caveat for the judges.This is a failure, a sloppy one, and compounding that of H&Z, on a par with the Independent Experts inability to do other simple things, such as obtaining and evaluating the laboratory data that Stenanoni had to put them right on in her own re-examination.

C&V were not able to acknowledge their errors - the limitations effecting their conclusions - on cross-examination. This was the sin of pride. However H&Z, given their own course of action and failures, were not inclined to be critical of that.

Posted by James Raper on 08/17/12 at 01:12 PM | #


Great commentary and very fair!

What I felt from the “tone and tenor” of the language of the report (from the few scattered excerpts), that their bias towards the defendant shows through. Excessive use of irrelevant adjectives like “good kids”.

More than once I have come across “no previous criminal record” which I consider objectionable; there has to be a beginning, right? How many are serial criminals, by the way? The legal document has been written in a very unprofessional way, as all of you have clearly indicated above.

I am just “puzzled” that there was not a single dissent within the team. There is a lot more in this stinking case that has not been revealed to us.

Thanks again for putting everything so succinctly!

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

Posted by chami on 08/17/12 at 05:22 PM | #

James, I agree completely. That “records” was left undefined is crucial, and errors in the instructions should be a matter for appeal.

Regardless, Vecchiotti should not have said the bra clasp was probably contaminated, any more than I should say that my dog probably ate our cookies (ignorant of the fact that the cookies were in a sealed container on the top shelf of the pantry).

Posted by brmull on 08/17/12 at 08:39 PM | #

To quote Dr Galati -

“The Perugia Court of Appeal has opted, instead, precisely for the parcelled out evaluation of individual probative elements, as if each one of them must have an absolutely unambiguous meaning, and as if the reasoning to be followed were of the deductive type.”

He’s right but I thought I would aid our understanding with the following. And, if Galati has not already done so in the appeal document then I might myself come up with some examples of his point from the Hellmann/Zanetti Report, but later.

Basically in deductive reasoning if the premises are true and the logical steps are valid, then the conclusion has also to be true. What the process does, in effect, is tease out a conclusion which is inherent in the premise. Conversely, if any premise is untrue, or factually incorrect, then the conclusion fails.

A textbook example is -

Socrates was a man
All men are mortal
Therefore Socrates was mortal.

With inductive reasoning we are able arrive at a conclusion which is not inherent in the premise but the downside is that it cannot be said that the conclusion has to be true. Instead the conclusion can be said to be probably, or most likely to be, true but even then the premises and the logical steps have first to be evaluated for that to be so. Inductive reasoning is said to be cogent when the logical steps are valid and the premises are assessed to be as accurate as they can be.

An example I picked off the internet is -

Socrates was a Greek
Most Greeks eat fish
Therefore Socrates ate fish.

This is in fact not a very good example. It almost looks deductive as a better conclusion would have been “Therefore Socrates probably ate fish” - there being a number of reasons why he may in fact not have. Nevertheless we can see that the conclusion is not inherent in the premise that Socrates was a Greek.

I think that H&Z deploy a mix, or at least their arguments have the appearance, of both deductive and inductive reasoning. Often this is the case. Most arguments are not textbook.

I think that H&Z’s reasoning as presented is actually inductive in nature, and in construction, as unfortunately the best that can be said of the conclusion to each argument is that the conclusion is possible or, being excessively charitable here and there, probable, instead of possessing the quality of being certain. However H&Z always present each of their conclusions with a ringing tone of finality bordering on certainty. This certainty, and the fact that their conclusions are also inherent in the premises, is a feature of deductive reasoning.

In particular it is apparent (at least to me) that there is a conclusion which H&Z have already drawn from similar argument which serves as an ever present - often concealed but sometimes not - premise in each subsequent argument.

It goes like this -

Nice kids don’t commit horrific crimes like this
Amanda and Raffaele are nice kids
Therefore Amanda and Raffaele did not commit this crime.

This looks very deductive. The logical steps are valid. The argument is however unsound if it can be shown that nice kids do commit horrific crimes like this or that they are not nice kids.

The above argument (be it that it is, of course, offered by me) also has an ambiguity or a shifting or obscuring of the terms of reference used to support it. This in itself is a logical fallacy. Define “nice”. Does that include “innocent”, in which case the premise is a tautology. If it doesn’t, so what of it?

As it happens “nice kids” do commit horrific crimes like this and so, if I am right about the conclusion serving as the hidden premise to subsequent argument, then it is false anyway.

If getting one’s head round the types of logic is fairly easy, making sense of the logic used in specific arguments is not.

Posted by James Raper on 08/18/12 at 07:26 PM | #


I take your example:

Nice kids don’t commit horrific crimes like this
Amanda and Raffaele are nice kids
Therefore Amanda and Raffaele did not commit this crime.

The first statement defines what is a nice kid. Otherwise, I can define nice kids in many ways: white, blonde, sexy, attractive, promiscuous and what not ...

The second statement says that the two kids in question have all the qualities of a nice kid (equivalence).

The last statement can be obtained from the second by substituting “nice kids” by its definition from the first statement. It is semantically equivalent to the first two and therefore the first two statements need examination.

In my opinion, both (first and second) statements are false. Permit me to explain.

400 years back sun used to move round the earth. It was believed to be true then. Today earth moves round the sun. So, the value of a statement can change with time. The precise cause can be debated, but we can confidently say that value depends on the knowledge at hand. It can also be due to some incident that has taken place: US is (used tenseless) a British colony would be true 250 years back but false today (2012).

If I would not have known much about these two nice kids, I would have tended to agree with both. As I know sufficiently about them today, I disagree with both the statements.

If a “nice kid” commits a crime but hides it successfully, then he will be continued to be defined (falsely) as “nice kid”. This is an example of incomplete information.

Long time ago, I met an old British lady in Florida who commented: this is our land, you know.

I laughed and said: that was so long time back, madam, much before you were born!

She looked at me straight in the eye and said: they took it back, illegally, you see!

It is the responsibility of the judges to establish the truth based on the available evidences. It must be consistent with all available evidences. A single convincing alibi by either of them will be both necessary and sufficient (but blaming others will not help) to establish their innocence.

Why RG is not a “nice kid”? Certainly he did not point a finger to an innocent person.

Posted by chami on 08/18/12 at 10:12 PM | #

And this niceness ex-meme is getting increasingly hard to get anyone of consequence in the legal process to swallow.

(1) It wasn’t the case even before Meredith’s murder.

As Yummi wrote: “They knew details like: leaving university, abandoning a job after one day, public disturbance fines, drunk parties, pouring beer glasses on the heads of unknowns, flirting with clients, relational problems with roommates and other girls, bringing several men at home causing arguments with roommates, collecting violent porn, heavy drug abuse over the years, knife collecting, a possible suicide mother, a lonely childhood and introverted character under the attention of a college director, memory voids.”

No to mention that to Italians they came across as a flippant, nonchalant, depraved pair and were both widely despised. (It is ironic that AK now shows a yen to set herself up in Italy just when RS shows a yen to get the hell out.)

(2) It wasnt the case in the 3 years after Meredith’s murder.

Galati-Costagliola specifically point to EDDA as well as Knox as knowing that Patrick was an innocent man. This is iron fist in velvet glove stuff: they in effect say the Supreme Court know that they are not very nice (and hint that Edda could even now be charged).

(3) It isn’t the case right now.

Amazingly, as recent posts by the Machine and brmull on Curt Knox & Kassin and Bruce Fischer, and as chest-thumping proclamations of what is to go in the RS and AK books have also shown, they are painting themselves in the US and the UK to be very sore winners.

Like Doug Preston, they are showing that defaming Italy’s officialdom in the eyes of the world is to be their new life-time careers.

After AK and RS got out, smart parents and smart lawyers and smart PR advisers would have said “Okay, all the nastiness and all sliming of anyone in Rome and Perugia must stop RIGHT NOW and Bruce Fischer, please get lost”.

But they didnt.

If Amanda wonders why she faces a future either of prison or of being locked in the attic, more than anyone it is Curt Knox and Bruce Fischer and Ted Simon and Robert Barnett that she has to blame.

If she reads here, she should throw them all under the bus and start to attempt some reality of nice by actually BEING nice, to the prosecutors, the Supreme Court, and especially Meredith’s family and friends.

Italy might accept that Knox back.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/19/12 at 03:22 PM | #

Yes, Peter, this is the greatest blunder FoA has made:

“After AK and RS got out, smart parents and smart lawyers and smart PR advisers would have said “Okay, all the nastiness and all sliming of anyone in Rome and Perugia must stop RIGHT NOW and Bruce Fischer, please get lost”.

But they didn’t.

If Amanda wonders why she faces a future either of prison or of being locked in the attic, more than anyone it is Curt Knox and Bruce Fischer and Ted Simon and Robert Barnett that she has to blame.”

Once the “Mission has been accomplished”, they should have retired in the background. No, but that is not to be; greed took over. She is no more the cause, now FoA is only defending themselves. See, how they are sliming individuals in the name of protecting Amanda.

Game theory says that when you attack the opponent, first do some research to find out their strengths and weaknesses. To make a credible attack, attack their strengths in a focused manner. Even if you do not win the first round, some muck will hopefully stick to their greatest armour and this is a gain.

Unfortunately FoA is weak in logic and science. Those who appreciate logic are going to leave them sooner or later.

I sometimes feel sad that Amanda will have to pay back these soldiers: but then Karma is slow but invincible.

Posted by chami on 08/19/12 at 08:28 PM | #

In one of the links above regarding Ted Simon, there is a reference to a bloody footprint on the pillow which was the size of AK’s foot.  Was this disproved in the appeal?  Was this bare ?footprint finally attributed to Guede?  If not, isn’t this a key piece of evidence that at the least, a woman was in the room during the murder?  I’m confused.  How could this be overlooked during the appeal?  Or was it attributed to be Meredith’s?

Posted by believing on 08/21/12 at 04:00 PM | #

Believing… I have studied that particular print so many times and tried to match it with other RG prints, and it in no way, shape or form is an RS print from his Nike.  Check it out in the gallery at PMF.  I am positive it is a smaller sized footprint, more attributable to a female.  I am not sure what the outcome regarding this footprint was and it is very frustrating.  There is so much information that is not available to us.  I guess that is a good thing for the FOA.

Posted by zinnia on 08/27/12 at 05:56 AM | #

believing and zinnia,

Massei expressed no opinion regarding this shoeprint, but the defense expert Prof. Vinci showed fairly convincingly that it is just another one of Guede’s shoeprints.

On the other hand, the shoeprint on page 24 of police expert Rinaldi’s report, found on a piece of notebook paper in Meredith’s room, and also in the dust in far the corner of Meredith’s room, probably belongs to Knox. This latter evidence was not discussed at trial.

Posted by brmull on 08/27/12 at 06:58 AM | #

Yummi’s report depends on (a) factual evidence (b) points of logic (c) Italian law & (d) court procedure.

Stephanoni’s results on the knife are convincing but notice that the later report of the two experts is jammed full of technical stuff designed to impress the layman.

Astonished as I was by that first court of appeal, I came to the (personal) conclusion that something else had entered in, namely, politics.  And that the judge had let himself be used. Result: fait accompli (a thing already done, as my old Webster translates.)  So in effect, the thing has been done, leave it alone.

Italian-American relations at some level enters in. American public opinion & high-level publicity is maybe not a force but a pressure.

As a non-expert in such matters as Yummi so capably deals with, I have had reasons all along for believing that Amanda is condemned out of her own mouth. What might yet carry the court to closing the whole case down: A widespread view that these young adults have come of good families, as remarked above.

I am hoping that the Supreme Court does find her guilty even if a further imprisonment is dropped.  Why can’t they?  More than that I can’t bring myself to hope for.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 03/24/13 at 05:53 PM | #

Andrea Vogt has written an excellent article about tomorrow’s hearing at the Italian Supreme Court.

Posted by The Machine on 03/24/13 at 08:20 PM | #
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Where next:

Click here to return to The Top Of The Front Page

Or to next entry Dissecting The Hellmann Report #4: The Contortions To Dismiss Witness Quintavalle

Or to previous entry Giuseppe Castellini Speaks Up For A “Kind Homeless Man Of Many Aspects”